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Double bombing hits Syria's Afrin: monitor

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - A double bombing killed nine people on Wednesday in Afrin in northwest Syria, an area held by Turkey-backed rebel groups who seized it in an offensive earlier this year, a war monitor said.

One blast struck near Dowar Kawa al-Hadad in Afrin city center, the other near a headquarters for Turkish forces on a road leading to a hospital, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Turkey-backed rebels gained control of Afrin in March after driving out the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group linked to the PKK that has waged a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey.

Rebel groups based in Afrin had earlier engaged in clashes after a dispute at a checkpoint, the UK-based Observatory said.

There were at least four fighters among those killed in Wednesday’s blasts and some of the survivors suffered serious injuries, it said.

Turkey intervened directly in Syria in August 2016, sending its forces into territory adjacent to Afrin in support of rebel factions to drive both the YPG and Islamic State from its border.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Andrew Heavens